PST Information Center

10 Desirable Candidate Attributes

Public Safety Testing solicited from the many agencies we work with a listing of critical factors candidates frequently fail to adequately address in the hiring process.  This document was produced to benefit YOU, the candidate, to enhance YOUR competitiveness for public safety positions by providing an awareness of desirable candidate attributes and characteristics as defined by the agencies themselves.   This is what THEY said….. 


#10.  LISTEN CAREFULLY 

Be an active listener – especially during the interview process.  Listen carefully to the questions asked and think before you respond. Take a few seconds to formulate a thoughtful, concise answer.  Active listening is a valuable skill in these jobs. 

#9. KNOW YOURSELF 

Know why you want to work in the profession, and how your background, skills and aptitude indicate success in performing specific duties.  Agencies want to know your capability and potential to address the various issues and challenges faced in public safety today. 

#8. CANDOR & SINCERITY 

Demonstrate sincerity, candor, integrity and conviction.  If you are not yourself, it will show!  Avoid canned responses – they want to see who you are, how you think and what you value. Be ready to admit your mistakes, but explain what you learned from them and how you improved yourself. 

#7. TRUTHFULNESS 

In all phases of the hiring process, be completely truthful and omit nothing asked of you. Everything you say or write in the entire process will be cross-compared. Untruthfulness in any form results in immediate disqualification – and is the #1 reason candidates are eliminated from the hiring process! Integrity, honesty and trustworthiness are the bedrock requirements of public safety professions.  No agency will equivocate with a shortcoming in this area. 

#6. PROFESSIONAL BUSINESS ATTIRE 

Dress and groom professionally and conservatively during any interview, preferably a conservative business suit. Failure to do so needlessly stacks the deck against you right away. Agency representatives are conservative, and expect professional, conservative dress and grooming. If you are unsure what constitutes conservative attire and grooming, ask someone who knows. 

#5. PUNCTUALITY 

Arrive at ALL appointments at least 15 minutes early.  Develop a habit of being early.   No reasons will be accepted for a late arrival. Anticipate any possible cause for a delay. Accommodating a late arrival adversely affects the entire testing schedule and portends poor time management skills on the part of the candidate. 

#4. KNOWLEDGE OF OCCUPATION & DEPARTMENT 

Applicants must have a solid knowledge of the specific duties and demands of the profession, as well as knowledge of the agency and the jurisdiction served. Good sources are the agency and city/county website, the agency’s annual report, talking to agency employees, friends in the profession, and ride-a-longs. This knowledge will be tested in virtually every interview. Failure to possess it indicates a candidate who is not serious and passionate about the profession or that agency. 

#3. FOLLOW APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS 

You must read and follow meticulously all instructions. Application and background forms must contain all required information. Failure to follow written or verbal instructions reflects poorly on the candidate, and in some cases may result in disqualification. Public safety positions demand rigorous attention to detail and thoroughness. Sloppy, incomplete and error-filled paperwork indicate the candidate lacks a professional attitude and attention to detail.   

#2. COMMUNICATIONS SKILLS 

Oral and written communications skills are critical in public safety occupations, and are emphasized in the testing process. Practice through mock oral boards and video/audio taping of yourself. Make eye contact with all panel members and practice concise, confident answers. Eliminate distracting verbal and physical mannerisms. Oral communications skills and the ability to establish rapport with an interview panel can be developed through practice and honest feedback from others.  

#1. PREPARATION 

You must prepare for EVERY stage of the hiring process.  This includes the initial testing process, interviews, background investigation, etc.  The prepared are noticed and so are the unprepared.  Be noticed for the right reasons!   Prepare for commonly asked oral board questions (and the written exam) through various resources and talking with others now working in the field. Maintain physical fitness and practice wellness. Very narrow point margins typically separate candidates, and diligent preparation often makes the difference between successful and unsuccessful candidates.   You may not necessarily be the BEST candidate, but you certainly can be the BEST PREPARED candidate! 

BEST WISHES TO YOU AS YOU PURSUE A CAREER IN PUBLIC SAFETY!